Ghost bikes are poignant and tragic reminders of a loved life lost. They are placed at locations where a bicycle rider died in a traffic collision. So when one appears at a new location, people notice.
For the past week or so now I’ve been getting messages and phone calls about several such bikes. People have seen them pop up at several locations around north and northeast Portland. So far they’re all children’s bikes, painted entirely bright white. The two things all the bikes have in common are a large peace symbol and plastic doves/birds perched on the handelbars.
In the past few days along they’ve been spotted at: N Cook and Borthwick, N Williams and Multnomah, NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd and Shaver, and N Albina and Prescott (in photos above).
The good and bad news is that these are definitely not ghost bikes.
I’m still trying to track down the person who’s locking these up around town, but until then, here are my guesses about what might be going on:
- This is the work of a grassroots peace activist doing some sort of anti-war campaign.
- Someone is sad and mad about our record high road deaths last year and this is their way of reminding folks to be safe.
- A hater is trolling us just for a prank.
Perhaps this person doesn’t know what white bikes at intersections mean to many of us. Ghost bikes trigger a lot of emotion for very good reason. I personally cannot see a white bike on the street without a strong visceral reaction. Regardless of what this person is doing, I wish they would find a different way — or even just a different color — for their campaign.
If you have any clue about who’s doing this or why, please let me know via email firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to solve the mystery.
I’ve often been curious how many outside of the cycling milieu have any familiarity or knowledge of ghost bikes. The times with non-bike friends that I’ve pointed out that they are sad to see, or reflected on the apparent dangers for cyclists, that I likely would have not considered without their presence, have often been met with a question of what prompted my observation or comment.
I hope these are meant to spread that caution, or perhaps they are revived memorials that have been lost to the memory of most. I’d like to remind other readers Hanlon’s Razor, we may find ourselves with an opportunity to educate, let’s not ruin that chance with assumptions of malicious intent before we even have it.
that’d be super interesting if these were indeed intended as ghost bikes – but for fatalities that happened longer ago. (most ghost bikes only survive a relatively short time)
The mallard and doves make me skeptical it isn’t a rogue art installation, but my above comment was as much a reminder for myself as anyone else. I am definitely curious.
I could see them as revived memorials, or I could see them as memorials to people who haven’t yet been killed, but will be (although with that, I’d like to see some differentiation to identify them as that).
Hence the kid bikes.
It would be a lot of work for a prank that’s not even very good.
yeah I agree that’s not very likely.
I passed the new one in front of the moda center on my way to work and it really shook me up because I was almost hit in that same intersection by a car running a red light at full speed
I’m guessing it’s someone’s pet art project to promote “peace” but I agree that it ends up being in poor taste and it would be best to change the color of the bikes.
They seem to be purposely placed at risky intersections where I could definitely see how someone might’ve been killed in the past. We’ll, maybe not cook and borthwick, unless it was a student. Are we for sure that no cyclists have died in those locations, ever? Maybe it is to bring awareness to these high risk crossings? Like, fix this before someone does die?
Crashes that involve children are notoriously underreported in most jurisdictions, so I think you may be onto something. It would be interesting if ERs and elementary schools keep records of where children report crashes – I know from previous research on bike crashes this is not typically part of the public record due to age issues and a lack of insurance.
Emergency departments do not track crash locations at all. I doubt schools do either.
Imagine donating these childrens’ bikes to children in need of bikes.
There is one in downtown Gresham in front of Cafe Delirium, too. It’s been there about a month.
He’s a peace activist from a wonderful small town would be my guess.